PT – It’s good for you, it’s good for me

My biggest struggle during my time in the military was physical fitness. Specifically, it was maintaining weight standards, but it’s all tied together.

My first posts on this blog all seemed to focus around women who did things it often seems like no mere mortal could do. Yet, there they were. I love writing about them because they have done the things that I believed women were capable of doing, even if I had no actual proof, since I couldn’t actually do it.

I know I was not alone in my struggles, so today’s post is going to be about physical fitness.

One of the first things to think about is that command PT is less about getting into shape and more about team building. I’m sure there are a lot of commands out there that want to go hard and really get a workout, but when there are so many different fitness levels, you get three groups of people.
1. There are those who feel like they’re dying because it is so hard. While chances are they won’t, many feel like they will literally die.

did you die
2. There are those who feel frustrated because they’re not getting a workout at all. They feel like they are just wasting time where they could really be “getting some” in the gym. Continue reading “PT – It’s good for you, it’s good for me”

Women make progress in combat, must keep pushing

At the end of September, a lot of military women’s advocacy groups were mad about comments made by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, including the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN).
While their anger is understandable and justified, I’d like to play devil’s advocate for  a moment and talk about where Mattis is coming from and where we need to go to help the “jury” make a decision.

A cadet at the Virginia Military Institute asked Mattis about whether or not he thinks females in combat arms makes us more combat effective.

Only a few parts of his comments were pulled in the mass media, which made him come across as very sexist.

mattis vmi

At the beginning of his answer, Mattis said “Because it goes from some people’s perspective of what kind of society do we want. You know, in the event of trouble … you’re sleeping at night, in your family home, you’re the dad, mom, whatever, and you hear glass break downstairs. Who grabs the baseball bat and gets between the kids’ door and whoever broke in? And who reached for the phone to call 911. In other words, it goes to the almost primitive needs of a society to look out for its most vulnerable.”

Before even getting into the rest of his comments, we have to break this down. In a lot of society, I’d even dare say in most of society, in a nuclear family, the husband is going to grab the bat and the wife is going to call 911. But, as society changes, so does that family dynamic. One dynamic alone is single mothers. They do what they have to do to protect their loved ones, the most vulnerable, their children. Continue reading “Women make progress in combat, must keep pushing”

Kavanaugh, Ford coverage sends negative messages about getting help

Before I even get started, I want to state that I firmly believe that victims of sexual assault should reach out for assistance, whether or not they ever choose to report it.

Having been in the Navy for 20 years, I am very familiar with the effects that sexual assault has on our forces. I was never a victim advocate because I never felt strong enough to support people who needed it. So, I applaud all of the victim advocates.

As a sexual assault command representative, I did attend the same training as the advocates. I also got involved in trying to educate and prevent sexual assault through public information campaigns.

That is why I find the coverage of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations of sexual assault again Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh so distressing.

Regardless of how people fall politically, or whether they believe Ford or whether they believe Kavanaugh, I believe that many Americans, victims of sexual assault, and future victims of sexual assault have been done a huge disservice in how all of this has been covered both in the media and on social media.

Two very negative messages about reporting sexual assault have been sent. Both have elements of truth to them, and both are bad.

  1. If you are accused of a sexual assault in the media, you will be found guilty in the public eye.
  2. If you report a sexual assault, and there is any record of you ever having made a bad choice in behavior, you will be publicly shamed.

Continue reading “Kavanaugh, Ford coverage sends negative messages about getting help”

Uniforms at the ball are for women too

Scrolling through Facebook, I came across a post I wish I had seen a long time ago. Before I even get started, I have to admit, I never wore a uniform to a service ball. I loved getting all dressed up in my finest gown. I never realized until now that I was part of the problem I’m now trying to fix.

Fleet Master Chief (retired) JoAnn Ortloff said it so much better than I ever could so most of this will be in her words. I’ll just chime in every now and then.

First of all, she is so shocked by the fact that many women don’t want to wear their uniforms to the ball that it is breaking her heart. Then she points out why.
“I understand some of you may feel that you can only have fun and look sexy or pretty in a gown and make up. But I would tell you, your beauty in uniform comes through in your commitment to something bigger than you.”

Marines ball

In this photo, Reserve Marine Sgt. Kelsey DeSantis took Justin Timberlake to the Marine Corps ball. She is proudly wearing her uniform, and looks beautiful doing so. Continue reading “Uniforms at the ball are for women too”

Paving the way for more women

We live in a world of continuous progress.

Less than a month ago, Army Staff Sgt. Amanda F. Kelley became the first female enlisted soldier to earn an Army Ranger Tab. While she is the 13th woman to graduate the school, she is the first from the enlisted ranks. She is also unique because she doesn’t have a background in any of the Army’s combat arms military occupational specialties. She was an electronics warfare technician.

Her path was paved by the first two women to graduate the course, Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver. My favorite part of reading about these two women is how they proved themselves during their time completing this course. The past two years have shown about a 40 percent graduation rate for men going through the course, so it’s clearly not easy.

According to the article linked above, they proved themselves to their classmates with their actions. During one phase of training a classmate said he had hit a mental wall, and didn’t think he could go on. When he asked for help, the men just looked at him, but Haver took some of his burden, so he was able to continue.

haver Continue reading “Paving the way for more women”

Navy Chief, Navy Pride

By the end of the day Friday, nearly 4,700 Sailors became Chief Petty Officers. The Navy has had Chiefs for 125 years. The Chief’s Mess is often referred to as a fraternity or brotherhood. While those terms may be used every now and then, the large number of women included in the group make the terms somewhat outdated. Still, the bonding in a fraternity or sorority still exists. The closeness that siblings share still exists.

I never reached that milestone in my career, but I am still always so proud when I see my shipmates reaching that pinnacle. So, today, I’ll share a few images from ceremonies around the world.

lori bent

The first image is a friend of mine. When I met Lori, now Chief Petty Officer Lori Bent, we were both working at Defense Media Activity. She was a second class petty officer at the time. Then I moved on to work at the Defense Information School. Shortly before I retired, Lori arrived there as a first class petty officer. Her hard work and dedication helped her reach this milestone and I am so happy for her. Continue reading “Navy Chief, Navy Pride”

Real-life Women Military Heroes

Breaking the glass ceiling

When I first heard about women breaking the glass ceiling, I thought it only referred to women trying to be leaders in business. Once I joined the Navy, I learned about women who have been doing this throughout the military.

Although I never met her, I was really happy to serve on the ship where Command Master Chief Beth Lambert became the first female command master chief of an aircraft carrier.

Command Master Chief Petty Officer (CMDCM) Beth Lambert

Another Navy heroine, who I heard a lot about but never got to meet, is Adm. Michelle Howard

7879785884_5ef54c6e14_z

She became the first female four-star admiral on July 1, 2014. On that same day, she also became the vice chief of naval operations. I’m pretty sure her appointment was due at least partly to her actions while serving as the commander of Task Force 151. For those who don’t know or maybe don’t remember, that is the anti-piracy task force. Howard was in command during the rescue of Capt. Phillips from Somali pirates. Long before that, she was the first African-American female to command a ship. Continue reading “Real-life Women Military Heroes”